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Survey tells elected office salary scale

With 2009 city elections qualifying under way and potentialcandidates mulling the possibilities of running for office, thesubject of salaries inevitably becomes a factor.

Each year the John C. Stennis Institute at Mississippi StateUniversity assembles a Municipal Salary Survey, which maps the payof city officials across the state. City Clerk Mike Jinks said the2008 survey numbers are accurate, but do not 4 percent raises forelected officials and other city employees voted in by aldermenduring budget talks in September.

According to the Stennis survey plus 2008 the salary increase,the office of mayor of Brookhaven comes with a salary of$61,880.

The mayor has many networking, public relations, decision-makingand paper-working duties, besides overseeing the everyday workingsof the city government. He also leads city board meetings everyfirst and third Tuesday night of the month.

The office of city clerk carries a $58,656 salary.

The city clerk performs many tasks, including the administrationof municipal elections, maintaining fiscal records and accounts,acting as secretary for bi-weekly meetings and preparingordinances, among numerous other tasks.

The chief of police has a $58,052 salary, and the personoversees all the workings of the Brookhaven Police Department.

The office of alderman, which is a part-time position, has asalary of $15,917 per year.

Aldermen serve as liaisons between their ward and the citygovernment, and make decisions as a body regarding a wide varietyof city matters. There are six wards in Brookhaven and an aldermanat large.

In all the offices up for grabs in the 2009 election, there arebenefits in addition to salary.

Health insurance premiums are fully paid, with jointly paidpremiums for dependents, and, where applicable, five personal daysand five paid vacation days. There are also 10 paid holidays, andan option for dental, life insurance and retirement.

Jinks said salaries and raises for all city employees arecompletely up to the board of aldermen each year when they havetheir budget hearings.

“We work on the budget and usually try to start with a certainpercentage and go from there,” he said. “And it’s the board’sdecision. They decide how they’re going to give the raises, whatpercentage they want, and they do it each year.”

The board usually votes on raises that affect all cityemployees, but there are times that a certain department will meritspecial attention, Jinks said.

“That depends on how they want to do it, because sometimes adepartment head comes in with a request,” he said. “Just like a fewyears ago when we completely redid police department and firedepartment’s pay structures.”

During 2007 budget talks, the police and fire department’s payscales were reworked to more adequately match up to other citiesBrookhaven’s size. At the same time, other city employees weregiven a raise of one dollar per hour.

Aldermen also vote on their own raises.

“That’s the way the state code got set up. In the code charter,they’re the only ones who can hire and fire and set wages,” hesaid. “The state charter sets the authority to be with theboard.”

The final deadline for qualification to run for electedmunicipal office is March 6. Party primaries are May 5 and thegeneral election June 2.